Failure in business and failure in life.

March 20, 2013

I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” -Michael Jordan on failure

Failure in business and failure in life.

Michael Jordan, failure in business

If we want to talk about total failure in business and failure in life lets look at Michael Jordan.

Michael Jordan is probably one of the most famous athletes in history. He holds the NBA records for highest career regular season scoring average ,(30.12 points per game) and highest career playoff scoring average, (33.45 points per game) still to this day.

Everyone knows him as THE basketball player of the 90’s.

However did you know he didn’t even make his high school basketball team?  If you look at his quote above you can see just how often he lost and his team lost.  Did this stop him?  Hell no.

Society seems to love the idea and concept of failure, but will rarely teach the power of failure.  The difference between telling someone that you’re trying to set up a business, or that you’re thinking of starting a business, and that of ‘yeah I run a digital marketing agency’ is noticeable.

People often reply with words like risky, not worth it, is there any money in it?  They’ll quote 99% of businesses go under within three years (which isn’t true btw).  If you say you’re already doing it they tend to just ask how it’s going like any other job.  Despite the fact that I probably had more money before I started.


Fail before you start.

Logo, draft, graphic, design, marketing, devon digital design, failure in business

I can promise you the first draft logo’s sucked.

Failure has an ugly atmosphere attached to it, but frankly, anyone who is serious about, business, sales, basketball, making money or anything at all relishes failure because it means that you have an opportunity to learn something.

Failing the first time is a liberating experience.  It could be something small, or large.  I remember my Step-Father used to say that he only thought drivers became safe after their first ‘prang’.  As long as you learn and assess what went wrong, failure is nothing to be ashamed of.

My first major failure would be a career.  I loved my job but it just wasn’t working out for one reason or another and I was politely asked to leave.  It devastated me, how could something that I wanted to do for years not work out?  Was I bad at the job?  Did I have the right skills?  Would I ever be right for corporate marketing?

As time moved on, the majority of my colleagues and mentors told me that I had nothing to fear.  History is full of people that fail at their first attempt at a career.  History is also full of people who set up a business, go bust and come back stronger.

This is for one reason-

  • You don’t know what you don’t know.

I had no idea how to run a marketing agency yet alone a business.  And I have already made hundreds of mistakes.  It’s interesting, as many people I work with are seasoned veterans of being self employed or Directors and Founders and most of them laugh at my mistakes.  In fact a few of them have said it gives them comfort I’ve made mistakes because it means I’m less likely to make mistakes with them!

You should look for failure and be excited by problems.  It is literally a situation that needs rectifying and changing and is by definition an opportunity to grow.  Sure it can be tiring having to constantly deal with rejection, mistakes, problems and faults, but I’d rather fail and pick myself up, than give up entirely.

Not to say that knowing when to call it quits isn’t important.  There is nothing more depressing to watch than someone flog a dead horse, but there is something admirable about someone who pursues something for so long it seems crazy.

Ultimately, everything is relative.  Panicking that you’ll make mistakes and mess up so badly, that everyone will make fun of you and you’ll loose all your money, is not a sensible use of energy.  You will make mistakes, you will fail, you will upset people, but that is part of the game.  Running a business means that you get to choose how to handle it, there is no shame is telling someone ‘look, I cocked up here, but I’ll make it up to you’.

Besides, most things aren’t as bad as they seem.  In the grand scheme of things, unless you’re Nick Leeson you’re not going to cause economic collapse.

Make mistakes, get excited about failure and problems.  See them as ways to improve.


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